Fifteen-year-old African American tennis player Francis Tiafoe of College Park, Maryland has become the youngest winner in the 67-year history of the Metropolia Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship. Some of the best adult players in men’s tennis have claimed victory in the 18-and-under championship: John McEnroe, Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl, Bjorn Borg and Andy Roddick. Tiafoe went up against 15-year old Stefan Kozlov for the win in Plantation, Florida. Kozlov is currently ranked at No. 5, two spots ahead of Tiafoe. This was the first time two of the youngest players in history battled one another and the first all-American final since 2004.
Tiafoe stands at 6′ 1″, 165 lbs. In his recent rankings, the tennis champ has gone from 35th to 7th after beating out the 2nd, 3rd and 4th seeds. During the big match, Kozlov took extended bathroom breaks, changing the momentum of the game in Tiafoe’s favor. In a surprising shot, Tiafoe took home the historic win. After his final hit of an ace down the middle, Tiafoe slammed his racket down and screamed to the sky in amazement. He vowed to just hit the ball as hard as he could and what happened next is history.
His victory at the Orange Bowl Championship is an early birthday present, as Tiafoe turns 16 on January 20th.
Francis’ parents, Constant and Alphina Tiafoe, moved to College Park, MD from Sierra Leone in the early 90’s. There, they gave birth to Francis and his twin brother, Franklin.